Madeira – Funchal’s Art Deco Wonders

It’s exactly the kind of  place where Poirot and Hastings discover the body of the heiress sprawled in a deckchair, shattered Martini glass with a faint odour of bitter almonds at her feet.

Cliff Elevator, Funchal

This cliff elevator links the Rua Portao Sao Tiago with Funchal’s sea front promenade. In style it reminds me a lot of Berthold Lubetkin‘s 1934 penguin pool at London Zoo. Unfortunately I have not been unable to find out much about this structure, but I do think that set in the cliff face it looks absolutely stunning.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, Funchal is quite rich in Art Deco buildings, the best in my opinion being the Mercado dos Lavradores (Worker’s Market).

This is the former power station in the centre of Funchal. It is no longer used for electricity generation and I believe that it has now been converted into offices.

Funchal Power Station

To me power stations are the cathedrals of Art Deco architecture. Where before God inspired architects like Wren to design great buildings, in the machine age of the 1930s electricity had become the power illuminating the world, motivating the likes of Giles Gilbert Scott to design such modern cathedrals as Battersea Power Station in London. Funchal’s power station is not quite as impressive as Battersea of Bankside, but it does belong to an age when the functional could also be beautiful.

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